Back in 1864, exactly 100 years before she was born the hotel that would one day become an apartment house that Mylee Dabbles would one day call home opened for business.
On that day in 1864 all of its rooms were freshly painted, the doors had just been hung and the floors creaked and popped as they settled into place.
There was nothing extraordinary about the rooms at the Davenport House- except for a small problem in 4-A.
One of the closet doors wouldn’t stay shut.
It was always swinging open-
all by itself.
Exactly 144 years to the date Mylee Dabbles turned up at the Davenport and she arrived, as she had promised the Manager, just after dinner on September 5th.
Mr. Teachman- Rodney Teachman the Manager of the Davenport and Mylee Dabbles chatted about Mylee’s trip- most of which she had taken by train- and the weather which was unseasonably cold and then she signed the last of the paperwork and gave him a check for her rent and for her moving in fees.
Rodney asked if she would need any help taking anything up to her place and she pointed to her two suitcases in the hall and told him she could manage.
” Well, I mean if you need help with your furniture of anything big like that. Being you’re up on the fourth floor and we don’t have elevators it’s a task but the Assistant Manager’s sons don’t mind helping new residents out and they’re used to moving things up and down those narrow stairs, so if you need help just let her know.”
” Oh that. Yes, well thank you for the offer but I’ve got it covered.”
Rodney usually took new tenants to their door but Mylee Dabbles reached out for his hand and gave it a small shake and then she smiled at him and thanked him for letting her in after hours and on his own time.
Rodney Teachman tried to smile back and he couldn’t quite do it- instead he waited until she left and then he went into the bathroom and scrubbed his hands until they were raw.
After that first night Rodney only saw Miss Dabbles a few more times- he saw her on the stairs going up to the fourth floor and he also saw her once in the courtyard reading a book.
It was called, ” 101 Magic Tricks Made Easy.”
She was laughing as she read it.
It only ever took the tenants of the Davenport 72 hours from the time they first moved in to get into the private lives of the new residents.
Except for this time – no one really had a take on Miss Dabbles- all they had to say about her was that she was so quiet it was like 4-A was empty and that no one lived there at all.
It was on Halloween that Mr. Teachman got a call to 4-C.
4-C was the Bayer’s place and one of the little Bayers had jammed something into one of the electrical outlets and now all of the power was out up on the 4th floor.
Everyone up there was annoyed-everyone except for Miss Dabbles.
She was taking her keys out of her bag just as Rodney came up the stairs and she moved just as easily in the dark as anyone else would in a well lit room.
He wasn’t sure why he did it, but Rodney was about to shine his flashlight at her door to help her find the lock when he heard a click.
He lifted the light to her face and saw that she was smiling at him with her mouth, and her teeth…
but not her eyes.
Those were as flat and dark as the blackness around them.
Worse then that look was the feeling he got she started to talk. Rodney backed up a little at the sound of her voice and when he realized how foolish he must look he tried to step forward and so did she.
She was still smiling.
” Would you mind taking my rent check with you now Mr. Teachman? I’m going away to visit some friends- they’re only in town for a few days and I must fly. “
” Well, I don’t have my receipt book…”
” Just tape it to the door” she said and then she reached out and pushed at his wrist and the beam from the flashlight went over her shoulder. ” If you don’t mind.”
No I don’t mind doing that, Rodney thought to himself, what I mind is standing here in the dark talking to you and I especially hate the feeling that I have right now that you can see my face and the rest of the hall just as easily in the dark as you can during the daylight.
I don’t think you’re normal Miss Dabbles.
” That’s funny, it usually dogs and sometimes cats who feel that way about me. “
” Excuse me? “
” Nothing, nothing at all, now if you don’t mind I would really to take care of my rent- “
YES I DO MIND his brain screamed and Rodney tried to hold his voice steady and he said, ” not at all.”
Just then the lights clicked on in the hallway and then all of the lights in the apartments came on…all of the lights except for the ones in Dabble’s place because…
from where he stood, with the door wide open Rodney could see that there were no lamps in 4-A.
There were no bulbs in the over head fixtures there wasn’t a single piece of furniture in the living room or a picture hanging on the wall and right next to the entrance way to the kitchen Rodney could see Miss Dabbles two suitcases leaning against the wall.
Rodney could even smell the cleaner that the maintenance people used on the carpets and from the kitchen he caught a whiff of the vinegar and water mixture they used to clean the refrigerators.
” I’ll just grab my bag- it’s on the kitchen counter.”
Just before she got to the kitchen she looked down the hallway to the back of her apartment.” Oh…you’re early, well I sup…”
Rodney watched her turn the corner and he only waited for a few seconds before he called out, ” Miss Dabbles? Miss Dabbles?” and then he added ” Are you there Miss Dabbles? “
He walked into the apartment and he looked into the hall Miss Dabbles had just walked down and he could see that the bedroom and bathroom doors were wide open and that both rooms were empty.
Empty of any signs of life- and empty of Miss Dabbles.
And then to his right, in the kitchen he saw the broom closet door swing open and then it shut…
all by itself.